Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Black X-Mas" (2006) d/ Glen Morgan

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If Bob Clark's 1974 cult classic were tantamount to the year that perfect Christmas present found it's way under a well-decorated tree (I dunno, 'matching buxom brunette boudoir bookends' comes to mind directly, for some unknown reason), then the 2004 remake would represent the year your old man fell off a ladder while hanging lights on the rain gutter and ate neck-snapped death a week before Christmas. Some of you already disagree with me, but I don't see how you can replace the real suspense and terror of the original with a handicapped backstory, replacing the engaging '74 subplots with more hot broads that already know what they have coming to them before they start dropping like flies, yet stick round any ol' way just to get whacked, and not see a total failure. This one doesn't just throw the kitchen sink at you in vainly trying to camouflage it's holes, the bathroom sink, the guest bedroom sink, the basement sink, and even the garden hose are all projectiles with your face written on them here. A body mechanic would have better chance of filling in the bullet holes in Bonnie and Clyde's deathmobile with a baby spoon full o' Bondo. Sure, it's a somewhat entertaining, splattery, incoherent mess, but I expected a little more out of something titled "Black X-Mas", and less is what I got, instead.

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Remember the incestuous, jaundiced cannibal from the first movie? Me neither.
This time around, Billy has a surname (Lentz), a liver condition (jaundice), and a drunken, abusive mom so disgusted by the yellowy sight of him that she locks him in the attic until, years later, sexually unsatisfied by his blank-bustin' poppa, she naturally climbs up and socks it to him as only a hateful mother could, resulting in a sister-daughter named Agnes, who he jealously blinds in one eye when he escapes one legendary Christmas to snuff his mother's candle ...while she's in the cellar... trying to bury his father's corpse. Have you swallowed all of that so far? Yeah, then you'll eat anything. Meanwhile, the authorities find him eating his mother's baked back flesh after shaping it with a cookie cutter and abruptly throw him in the 'Clark' Sanitarium. Oh, you two-guys-that-shoulda-stuck-to-X-Files-and-Millenium-on-television, you're clever, really you are. Speaking of television, several familiar small screen faces turn up as sorority sisters at Lentz's former home, now the Delta Alpha Kappa house, as overseen by Mrs. Mack (Andrea Martin, from the original movie). Lacey Chabert, Michelle Trachtenberg, Katie Cassidy, among others, all joke openly about the house's terrible past, even leaving Billy a yearly gift under the tree, so it should come as no surprise to any of them when they start getting bag-smothered and crystal unicorn-shanked one by one, but it somehow does, anyway, doesn't it.

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Cheap over-the-top gore for dinner again?
While the sisters are getting eyeballed and asphyxiated , we see Billy cleverly orchestrate a dramatic and bloody escape from the sanitarium (especially clever, since the guard even remarks that the disturbed man attempts a break out every year at the same time just moments before he's added to the body count himself), meaning that his cyclopean sibling-offspring has been the one chopping the heads off of wallflowers back at the sorority house, leaving the obligatory one or two most resilient gals to square off against both murderers in a fiery false finale that naturally claims neither Lentz psycho, so they're able to be more dramatically wiped out at the hospital, with a defibrillator and Christmas tree impalement, respectively. Big deal...

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I liked Margot's head gag considerably more than this gag head.
If you tried replicating the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel with a crayon on the back of a toilet lid using only your feet, you'd probably come closer than Wong and Morgan came to succeeding on any level here. It's too bad,  as I liked both of  their big tv shows just fine. Goofy self-aware nods to several, more effectively executed slasher flicks, shlocky gore, and terrible writing bereft of anything remotely resembling tension or a scare might be worth a good laugh with your buddies, but if you're on board to re-experience any of the original's potency, you're fucked outta luck, Chuck. Don't let Bob Clark's producer credit fool you here, either, as he had no problem attaching his name to crap towards the end of his career. See: Super Babies:Baby Geniuses 2 (2004). One wop, but just for laugh's sake.

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Smother me with the bag when you're finished, would ya?
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